Afghan Heartbreak

Yes, it breaks my heart to see what is happening in Afghanistan, but we all need to remember certain facts.

The initial reason for going into Afghanistan was to disrupt Al Qaeda training camps after 9/11. We knew bin Laden was in Afghanistan and he was training fighters.

Initially there were special forces, followed by ISAF–the International Security Assistance Force, led by NATO. Incidentally, The only time Article 5 of the NATO charter requiring mutual assistance for a NATO member under attack has been invoked was when the US was attacked on September 11, 2001. That’s why NATO was involved.

About 2003, we began sending various training teams to Afghanistan. US Military Embedded Training Teams to teach the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police how to be militarily effective. Provincial Reconstruction Teams to teach civilian governments their responsibilities to their citizens. The teams of US military were shoulder to shoulder with the Afghans, whether at a forward operating base, or working to rebuild (or more commonly, build) infrastructure.

After 20 years, the Afghans have been trained. They have appropriate weapons and equipment, which they have been taught how to use. They had fought alongside ISAF members. They have everything they need to take care of themselves. Afghanistan is a sovereign nation as they frequently reminded us.

But, when the Taliban attacked, the Afghan military deserted their posts, reportedly without a fight. Their President, Ashraf Ghani, quickly scooted out of the country. His message to his countrymen was the equivalent of, “Sucks to be you.” It was the Afghan government and the Afghan military’s job to protect their people. We did their job for them for 20 years. As sad as the outcome is, how long were we supposed to take care of them? 30 years? 40 years? Forever?

In the meantime, the “Real Congress Members of Washington, DC” are in front of the cameras, raising their voices in righteous indignation. This includes the 84 senators (out of 100) who NEVER served in the military and the 356 representatives (out of 430) who NEVER served.

That also breaks my heart.

One response to “Afghan Heartbreak

  1. One of your best-ever essays, Steve. Thanks for sharing that helpful perspective!

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